Nursing Voices

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The War Against Nurses Part II


  • Salon.com The War Against Nurses by Diana Reiss-Koncar

  • I don’t know where to start. I guess the best thing to do is to start at the beginning. Please bear with me. I had a really bad weekend.

    A patient tried to kill four nurses on our unit last weekend. One of those nurses was me. The patient made a shank out of a metal object that he found on the unit, and used his weapon to break Plexiglas out of a picture frame that was hanging in the hallway. Then he whirled the jagged shards at our heads as we ran behind the nurses station. After that he jumped over the desk and tried stabbing us with the shank. We ran for our lives, and barricaded ourselves behind a locked door. We called for help, but the hospital operator didn’t pick up. I called 911, and the police thought I was joking and made me repeat myself three times before they would send help. We used our unit radio to call security, and they came as fast has they could, but it seemed like hours passed before help arrived onto the unit. There was a huge fight inside of the nurses station before the patient was put into restraints. The patient was charged with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, and he was hauled off to jail in handcuffs. Then a court commissioner released the patient on his own recognizance 4 hours after he left the unit. The patient was then seen hanging out in the hospital cafeteria the next day, and security told me that they couldn’t throw him out because he “wasn’t doing anything wrong.” I went to the courthouse on Monday morning, and raised hell. The state’s attorney couldn’t believe what happened, and changed the patient’s condition of his release. Now he can’t go into the hospital unless he is being seen in the ER. Needless to say, I’m emotionally spent.


    I’ve written about workplace violence before, and it continues to rear its ugly head on my unit. This stuff isn’t new. Nurses get attacked all of the time, but people don’t hear about it because hospitals have their way of keeping that stuff out of the newspapers. It’s bad for business. My boss told me yesterday that she was sorry that we were attacked, but that we needed to understand that the patient “had issues.” I told her that the patient is a sociopath, and that he can work on his freakin’ issues from inside a jail cell.

    I wonder who this guy is going to kill before the system puts him away for life.


    UPDATE:

    This patient has a long track record of violence, and as we all know, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. So guess what....

    THE UNIT DIRECTOR TOLD US THAT THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT TAKING OUR ATTACKER BACK ONTO THE UNIT!

    Trust me, there are going to be consequences if the hospital disregards this court order. When will the bullshit end? By the way, I was contacted by the state's attorney’s office today. My attacker is going to court on April 24th to be told about the additional conditions of his release. I hope the little SOB flips out in front of the judge. I’ll keep you posted.

    24 Comments:

    Blogger BPD in OKC said...

    Dear God, I can't believe you had to go through that. I'm so sorry that happened.

    3:50 PM  
    Blogger Braden said...

    Scary!

    Don't let my wife read this post. She may never let me go back to work.

    Braden
    20 out of 10 Blog

    3:52 PM  
    Blogger Adrienne Zurub said...

    This is frickin' unbelievable!
    And, yet, believable...in a hospital setting!
    Nurse-Ratched good for you for taking action and filing charges.
    It is ridiculous how hospital administrations and nursing adminstrators handle these type of offenses (as well as internal offenses between employees!)

    My hat is off to you!
    Thanks to your action others will know what options to take to seek justice and redress.
    Adrienne

    6:08 PM  
    Blogger School Nurse Jack said...

    You are my hero, in several different ways. I am so thankful you are safe and were not harmed, and hope this week treats you well.

    9:37 PM  
    Blogger Cinder said...

    Oh my Gosh,what are you going to do? People just think they can beat up nurses without repercusions. I'm not working right now and I was thinking about working in the ER but I'm not putting up with that. The administration blames the nurses and rather pay for disability than security? I've been a nurse a long time but I'm thinking about finding something else to do.
    And please be careful NR.

    10:24 PM  
    Blogger Robin said...

    This is just about as horrible as it gets, but I think the war against nurses is being fought on many fronts. We have to fight doctors, administration, even other nurses at times, and it is not going to get better. I am getting out, and am looking for other nurses who want out too. If you want information on what I'm doing, drop me a line: lyonsrobin@hotmail.com. Good luck to all.

    10:33 PM  
    Blogger ERnursey said...

    How horrible, I'm very glad you are physically OK but I fear the emotional scars will take awhile to heal.

    You nurses need to go to administration and DEMAND strong safety measure be instituted immediately or you will be forced to see a lawyer and pursue legal action against the hospital for failing to provide adequate safety and security measures to protect their staff.

    You don't have a panic button which is directly connected to the police department that immediately summons multiple police code 3. You do not have a hospital emergency line that is answered by an operator right away. You don't have the ability to page for help your self. From your story I infer you have no safe haven where you can lock yourselves in until help arrives.

    You have blogged before about an unsafe situation and management blaming it on you. This kind of thing is INTOLERABLE. Staff safety should be absolute tantamount and your managers cavalier attitude is CRIMINAL. Un-fucking-believeable. Sorry for the language.

    Hugs and kisses sweetie, take care.

    And a pox on your hospital administration.

    12:10 AM  
    Blogger ERMurse said...

    Your administration should of taken the lead on this issue and presued a restraining order to keep the offender off the property unless he is brought in by ambulance for a medical emergency.

    12:24 AM  
    Blogger MonkeyGirl said...

    You need to get one of these.

    5:25 AM  
    Blogger Forty_Two said...

    Sounds like the public school system.

    Kids will be kids.

    We can deal with this after football season.

    11:02 AM  
    Blogger DisappearingJohn said...

    Wow. I can't believe they let him back on property...

    I'm sorry you were stuck in that. Was there any warning this person was violent, or did it come out of nowhere?

    12:42 PM  
    Blogger GuitarGirlRN said...

    Ugh, how awful. I know my husband is worried about me--we have no metal detectors at any entrances to the ER, and we have one unarmed guard at the door only about 8 hours a day.

    Yikes.

    Please be careful. Your safety has got to come first.

    7:55 PM  
    Blogger tammyswofford said...

    Having done close quarter combat training in the Navy, let me tell you that a person fifteen feet away from you with a knife/shank can reach you and kill you in less than three seconds with a well-placed stab wound.

    My suggestion? The administrative staff should man your unit while the patient with the killer instinct and nothing to lose awaits his next victim.

    Be safe and fight for your right to not provide care for a person who attacked you and may seek you out again as his victim.

    Praying for you, my friend.

    Tammy

    8:46 PM  
    Blogger Smalltown RN said...

    Thank god for you speaking out....I am sick and tired of having to take the physical abuse from patients...."it's part of our job" we are continually told. You know if these patients did this kind of stuff to a police officer they would be in jail so fast it would make your head spin. It is tragic that you had to experience that....tell what is your administators answer for why the desk didn't answer their phone....and why doesn't your unit have an emergency number to call for a "code white" like we do for all codes...."code white" is no different than a "code blue" as far as I am concerned....what does your union say? Good for you for standing your ground.....

    I understand he is not well....your unit is not the unit he should be on....sounds like he needs to be on a forensic unit and locked up for treatment....there is no doubt this man needs treatment it's just what is the right environment to provide this treatment....

    7:38 AM  
    Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

    This is a terrible thing to have to go through. I went back to look at the post about the drug dealer against whom you were to testify -- you've certainly had your run-ins with the legal system of late.

    I can not understand what possible 'reason' the administration would have for even thinking about letting this guy back in.

    1:01 PM  
    Blogger FatwaGirl said...

    You and your co-workers need to get together and chip in for an hour of time with a labor lawyer. It doesn't sound like your union is being helpful so I suggest you do this on your own. You need to find out what your rights are with respect to workers compensation, and what employers can do to you. I think most employers keep incident reports, even if an employee doesn't have an injury requiring treatment and it might be illegal for them not to keep these records. You need to find out from this lawyer what OSHA and your state equivalent require by way of incident reports. You also need to find out what sort of retaliation on the part of the employer is legal and isn't. Most isn't if you are just trying to file a workers compensation claim. And you need to file a claim, even if it's just for a band-aid, every single stinking time you get hurt on the job. Your goal should be to drive up their workers comp rates to the point that it is cheaper for them to hire guards, and I don't think it would take too long to do that. (I say that because frequency of claims will get an underwriter's attention more than severity because every little claim has the potential to blow up to a big one.) But you are going to have to arm yourselves with knowledge and be willing to fight back. If you're unionized, and unless your union is completely useless, you can get what you need just by knowing how to work the system back against your employer.

    12:23 PM  
    Blogger Cinder said...

    Comment on update,WTF!!
    I'm speechless!!
    Please follow through w/ the states attorney.Does your hospital want mass casualties in their unit or what?!What are they thinking!

    12:40 PM  
    Blogger corey said...

    Nice post

    5:17 AM  
    Blogger Doreen Orion said...

    I wish I could say this is unbelievable, but since my husband and I have both worked on psych units, I know it's not.

    "Issues," indeed. Whatever happened to "responsibility"?

    10:39 PM  
    Blogger Big 'N Tasty RPH said...

    The unit should invest in some police grade long distance tasers for you so the next time someone attacks you can zap the shit out of him. I am also partial to the death penalty for violent crime....and long stays away from work that include paid time off, psychiatric counseling, and alcohol. I feel your pain!

    8:06 AM  
    Blogger JustCallMeJo said...

    Oh my god, MJ. I'm so glad that you're all right.

    You continue to raise hell until the sonofab!tch is put behind bars.

    I think that the administration is so used to us nurses being accustomed to having patients be violent with us that they don't see that it actually isn't our jobs to be nice to continually violent attackers.
    /jo

    3:26 AM  
    Blogger overactive-imagination said...

    OMG MJ. I'm so sorry this happened to you and your co-workers. I can only imagine how scary that must have been. Even as just a tech at this point, I've had patients curse at me, try to grab me when I got close enough to their restraints and threaten me but I just can't imagine this.
    *I* am ticked that your manager would even think of taking this man back on to your floor. That's ridiculous. If he's sick them I'm sure they have a cell in the local jail that can hand him his meds through a set of bars.
    I'm glad everyone is okay. This really bites and quite honestly, scares the hell out of me.
    Hugs
    Dawn

    5:34 AM  
    Blogger 5 Wester said...

    Hi MJ,

    I'm glad you're OK. Yup, stuff like this do happen (I've been in on the receiving end before). Hospital administration need to provide a safer work environment by not accepting this patient back into the unit. Either that or maybe they can take care of this patient themselves. Stay safe!

    1:20 AM  
    Blogger Wounded Healer said...

    That sounds very disturbing and frightening. Thankfully you or no one else was harmed. I'm amazed that you have the courage to continue. Good work.

    Btw, I'm a new nursing student blogger. I've added a link to your blog. Could you return the favor?

    4:43 PM  

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